Brave Pendle vet in horse tragedy drama

A BRAVE Pendle vet is urging people to remain aware of the dangers of horses after he was called out to a fatal accident on the A56 in Haslingden.

Nick Johnson, a large animal veterinary assistant at Stanley House Veterinary Surgery, which has branches in Colne, Barnoldswick and Nelson, was among those brought to the scene when Peter McGuire (51), of Middleton, was killed while on his way to a practice event at Croft Top Farm, in Accrington.

Mr McGuire was found unconscious with a serious head injury trapped in the rear of a horsebox, together with a horse, by emergency services just before 6pm on October 21st, and was pronounced dead at the scene.

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While the vehicle was moving, the horse had become agitated and had dislodged the enclosure in the rear compartment that restricts movement and supports the horse during transportation. When Mr McGuire entered the horse compartment, it kicked him and caused fatal injuries.

His wife was also repeatedly kicked, and she sustained a fractured femur and chest injuries.

While the couple’s daughter was present, she was fortunately uninjured, although she was treated at hospital for shock. The horse was later transported to a local equestrian centre.

Now Mr Johnson, who lives with his six-year-old dog Nelson in Barnoldswick, has spoken out about his experiences of the tragic incident, and has warned everybody, whether they are trained with horses or not, to remember just how dangerous the large animals can be.

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The Birmingham-born vet, who studied at Bristol University, said: “People have to be careful. It doesn’t matter if you own a horse or not.

“At the end of the day, they are 550kg killing machines. They can kill you with one kick or one swing.

“Thousands of horses are transported each week.

“This is such a tragedy, but it should be used for the rest of us to appreciate the dangers. We need to keep ourselves safe as people.

“And there’s a message there for drivers as well — they must slow down for horses on the roads.”

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Mr Johnson, who has worked at Stanley House Veterinary Surgery since 2006, told how he was provided with safety gear, so that he could enter the horsebox and sedate the horse, who was blocking Mr McGuire’s body. Officers attached him to a rope, so that he could be pulled to safety if there were any problems.

Over the course of four-and-a-half hours Mr Johnson, who regularly enters horse riding competitions himself, was required to sedate the horse a total of three times.

The vet, who believes the horse has now been handed back to its breeder, said: “I was very nervous — I can’t pretend I wasn’t.

“I was slightly worried that the body would be somebody I knew.

“I have never seen anything quite so serious.

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“There was also the risk that a similar incident would happen to me. I could have been in very serious danger, but I did have the safety gear and the back up of the officers, so I felt confident I would be rescued if there was any doubt.

“The emergency services were an exceptional group of people.”